Script was bit of a dead parrot

December 3, 2004

All too frequently, senior figures in politics and science pass off articles and speeches written by their poorly paid secretaries as their own. So we congratulate Lord May, the president of the Royal Society, for penning all 30 pages of his annual presidential address, which he delivered on Tuesday.

But staff admit that one typical Lord May gem in his original draft "mysteriously disappeared" after fears in the society that many of its fellows might not share their president's knowledge of popular culture.

In response to calls for a Hippocratic oath for scientists, he had written a withering account of oaths sworn by engineers on graduation from institutions around the world.

"I especially like the one where the initiate lifts a heavy chain and swears an oath of archaic solemnity. The whole thing conjures up a vision that blends Monty Python with Conan the Barbarian ," his original script said.

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